By Neto Baptiste
Since the tragic death of three horses in an early morning blaze in April this year, the Antigua Turf Club (ATC) has moved to try and make its facilities safer.
This was revealed by head of the turf club, Neil Cochrane, who said that although the body has limited control over possible external threats to the animals housed at its stables, they have taken steps to ensure that the structure’s electrical fittings are in the best possible conditions.
“Not knowing what the reason was, whether it was electrical, or it could have been a cigarette that could have been dropped — from an electrical perspective we did have Mr Dowdy, who is a part of our fraternity, do some review on the electrical connections that are there. They noted there are some areas of weakness and so we are working on trying to improve that to make sure that the chances of an electrical fire happening is reduced significantly,” he said.
In April, three horses housed at the First Triple Crown Stables perished in an early morning blaze, sending shockwaves throughout the local racing fraternity.
The fire department launched an investigation into the possible cause of the fire but the findings were inconclusive. Since then, there has been no new developments.
“I don’t think that anything has changed; nothing has come to me officially from the police force or their investigators. I think they basically ended it as being inconclusive, so I think that is where we are. Nothing has really come of it. We lost three horses that were critical for us and that ended up also making us lose an owner from being in the sport,” Cochrane said.
The Turf Club has not held races since June, owing to varying reasons, and Cochrane has labelled the last six months of this year as being negative from a racing standpoint.
“The last six months has just ended up being a lot of negative things happening, from the fire to continuous interruptions of rain and so on, and so we really have not ended on a positive note. It would be great if we could race on the 29th [December] which I think is what Baba [Dr Dwayne Thwaites] is hoping for, and if that is possible I would be the first one pushing hard for it,” he said.
Thoroughbreds Prince of Wadadli, First Chapter and Demolition Man all perished in April’s fire. The horses were jointly owned by Jerry Roberts and Hazelroy Barnes.